How a photographer made this mind-blowing music video by combining over 5,000 still shots


posted Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 9:00 AM EDT


Over on Reddit, photographer David Vincent Wolf has been answering questions about his newest project: a music video for Portugal. The Man's new song, "Atomic Man." It's an incredible combination of still photography and automatic tweening that creates a mind-blowingly freaky final product.

According to Wolf, the video is comprised of more than 5,000 shots, which were then stitched together in Final Cut Pro 7 and After Effects. He used a plugin called Twixtor to interpolate the difference between each frame. Sometimes, it creates a very natural transition between the two images, but sometimes the result is bizarre and offputting.

The entire project was shot using a Nikon D700, 50mm 1.4, and a 45mm tilt shift Nikkor, and all the focus pulls were acheived in-camera. Here's his breakdown of Wolf's whole process:

  • shot them in my studio, using hot lights, at frame rates that varied between 1FPS and 8FPS.
  • I then brought the frames into Photoshop, where I applied the black and white grade... I recorded an action to automate the process across all the frames.
  • Then, I organized the frames into folders per band member, and then subfolders per action... ie "Noah / Head turning"
  • Then, I brought each folder into After Effects as an image sequence, applied Twixtor with an original framerate setting of 1FPS... then I stretched each sequence out to between 500% and 2000% of the original sequence length.
  • Editing was done in FCP7, and then it went back into After Effects so I could apply a grain overlay.

Twixtor, as a plugin, is designed to change the frame rate of a piece of footage, and obviously Wolf is heavily abusing its algorithm by using it for transitioning from 1fps up to full 24ps. But that's part of what makes this video so interesting and unsettling.